Saturday, October 17, 2009


A question I get asked a LOT about elimination communication (EC) is "why?"

I've been asked this question in the form of responses to my blog posts, emails, personal messages, and face to face with family members, and it is usually coupled with reasons that I shouldn't be doing this.

"Why are you taking him to the potty when you are busy? Why won't you just take care of it later" Well, here's my short and sweet smart alec answer: I have to deal with the poop at some point, so I might as well do it now before it's stuck all over his butt!

Yes, laziness has a lot to do with our choice to EC. Too lazy to get a new diaper, and too lazy to deal with poop that somehow gets spread all over everything during a diaper change because of a wiggley baby, and too lazy to wash the diapers every other day. For every catch that we make in the potty, that is one less diaper that I have to deal with.

But it runs a little deeper than that too. That is really my "shut up, I'm different, deal with it." answer. The true answer has to do with the level that it has brought Jonah's and my relationship to. As I have said before, there is no training involved in EC. At all. Period. At the heart of EC is the "C." Communication. Jonah communicates to me that his need at that moment is to eliminate. As one friend and fellow ECer put it, it is the same to me as other mothers can tell when their child needs food, or needs sleep, or needs comfort. Eliminating is a basic need that your child can communicate to you, if you nurture that communication and awareness of elimination. After Jonah communicates to me what his needs are, I communicate back that I understand, by giving him the "cue." Now I've come to dislike this word "cue" because in psychology this word has come to be synonymous with "stimulus." And that isn't at all how it works. When I say "cue" I simply mean that I give Jonah the signal that I have understood his need and he is now in a place where he can relieve himself. It's a two way communication.

So I agree with several readers when they say that I have not trained Jonah yet- a child who is potty trained doesn't need an adult to take him to the potty, and can go on his own. What I don't agree with is that these readers often suggested that it is the parent who is trained. I do not agree with this, because as I said, there is no training involved. No training for anyone. It is all about communicating and responding to needs, not training.

It is not a waste of time because it in fact saves me time. As said above, I don't need to wash as many diapers as often, I don't need to find a clean one to put on, I don't need to wipe the entire area of the derriere. It takes about half the time to put Jonah on the potty and let him go there than it does to change his diaper. One reader in particular asked me why I would choose to stop pumping breast milk but continue with EC. I want to address this particular question, because it upset me at first. So much that it has taken me months to even respond. It probably seems like I spend a LOT of time on EC because that is what this blog is devoted to. Practicing EC does not take up so much time that it impedes on other aspects of my parenting. Practicing EC does not mean spending hours away from my child with very little results. Trying to pump full time with breasts that are no longer producing more than an ounce of milk, does. I did not choose EC over breastfeeding, and that is a completely different chapter in my life.

So why do I do it? In a nutshell, because it is an extension of my family's lifestyle. It is listening to my child and his needs, and providing for them. It is not letting my son sit in his waste for any amount of time. Because it is the best thing that I know to do for my son.

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